Shooting on the Front Line: One Soldier's War in Afghanistan at the River and Rowing Museum

By Culture24 Reporter | 01 September 2011
A photo showing a silhouette of a soldier against a sunset
© Paul Smyth
Exhibition: Shooting on the Front Line: One Soldier’s War in Afghanistan, River and Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames, September 3 2011 – January 29 2012

Of all the photographs taken of the current military situation in Afghanistan, the most affecting have tended to be those taken by individuals most directly involved with the conflict.

Major Paul Smyth, a TA Reservist involved in one of the largest offensives embarked upon against Taliban strongholds in Central Helmand, spent six months on ground patrols and helicopter sorties, and the pictures he has returned with range from sudden insurgent outbreaks and visits from royalty to the difficulties of preparing a frozen Yuletide turkey within the confines of an ammunitions box.

Alongside his film footage, some of them have been used by news reports across the world. “The exhibition serves as a simple reminder of the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors and airmen who work tirelessly on our behalf,” he says modestly, praising the “wonderful” support of the host venue.

“This is a real departure from the usual images they hang, but one I am sure visitors will find very interesting.” The Afghan scenery is again prevalent in this group of photos, framing tensions against a backdrop of beautiful scenery and temperatures which often test the troops further.

“They perfectly capture the oppressive heat and constant threat when soldiering in the Middle East,” observes the museum’s Paddy Nicoll.

“It is a tribute to our servicemen in Afghanistan, many of whom are representing the Henley area. We are extremely proud to host such a powerful exhibition from this local artist.”

  • Open 10am-5pm (winter hours 10am-5.30pm). Admission £8/£6 (free for under-3s).

More pictures from the show:

A photo showing a silhouette of a soldier against a sunset
Smyth was deployed with the 11 Light Brigade to Helmand on a six-month tour of duty between October 2009 and April 2010© Paul Smyth
A photo of soldiers in camouflage outfits on a battlefield in Afghanistan
The artist is currently working on a book covering his tour in Afghanistan, called Blogging from the Battlefield© Paul Smyth
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